CURACAO

Curaçao is an island in the Caribbean, among the group known as the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Bonaire. This trio is located near Venezuela, and are considered to be outside the Caribbean’s so-called “hurricane zone.” This means that vacations to the island are rarely disrupted by such tropical storms. Curaçao is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

One of the most notable things about the island is its culture. This Dutch island features building styles you’d find in the Netherlands, but painted in beautiful pastel shades. However, the people of the island have developed a culture, and even a language, of their own. Papiamentu (also spelled Papiamento), is the island’s native Creole. Papiamentu is a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch, but with a very basic grammar. Official spelling has existed for only a few years.

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Culture

The culture of Curaçao lends itself to many backgrounds, with the island home to a majority of Afro-Caribbean, along with Dutch, French, Latin American, and Asian folk. There is also a significant Jewish input. Though English is widely spoken, the native tongue is Creole of Portuguese descent. Dutch and Spanish can also be discerned in everyday conversations.
With its mostly Dutch upbringing, Curaçao retains a distinctive air in its architecture. You will notice this especially in Willemstad, with its typical multicolored, Dutch-style building. The cuisine is a mixture of the various peoples, with Dutch goodies and seafood particularly prominent.
The best way to get a feel for the Afro-Caribbean heritage is to attend one of the festivals. Carnival is a big hit with locals and tourists alike, and shows off the dress, drumming music, and dance of the Afro-Caribbean locals.

Nature

Cactus: If there’s one word that describes Curaçao’s most prevalent plant, it’s cactus, and the island hosts hundreds of species. The towering Kadushi Cactus is more like a multi-trunk tree with thousands of needles. The Yatu Cactus is also tall, sometimes as much as 30 feet, but has fewer needles, and is often used to make fences. You’ll find both these species in abundance all over the island, in places so tall they fall over from their own weight.
The prickly Curaçao, Curaçao, and many others, some as small as a pebble, are prevalent all over the island. Acacia bushes, scraggly trees with small green leaves and long, hard thorns, are also numerous, as is Aloe Vera, with its pale green, waxy leaves.
The island is also home to the Divi Divi Tree, the famous leaning tree of the ABC Islands that looks like a cartoon rendition of a stretched tree bowing to an audience. Indeed, the tree is bent by years of exposure to the trade winds that blow from east to west across the island. Por that reason, the tree always “points” to the west.

Fauna

The island is subtropical and semiarid, and as such has not supported the numerous tropical species of mammals, birds, and lizards most often associated with rainforests. But birders will not be disappointed by the dozens of species of hummingbirds, bananaquits, orioles, and the larger terns, herons, egrets, and even flamingos that make their homes near ponds or in coastal areas. The trupial, a black bird with a bright orange underbelly and white swatches on its wings, is common to the island and to Curaçao. The Mockingbird, called Chuchubi in Papiamentu, resembles the North American mockingbird, with a long white-gray tail and a gray back. Near the shore, note the big-billed brown pelicans that dive, straight down like dead weight, into the ocean after fish. Other seabirds include several types of gulls and large cormorants.
Of mammals, other than some field mice, small rabbits, and cave bats, Curaçao’s most notable animal is the white-tailed deer. This deer is related to the American white-tailed deer, or Virginia deer, found in spots from North America through Central America and the Caribbean, and as far south as Bolivia. It can be a large deer, some reaching six feet (two meters) in length and three feet (one meter) in height, and weighing as much as 300 pounds (136 kg). In Curaçao you’ll be able to identify it by its long tail with a white underside, and because it’s the only deer you’ll see on the island. It is a protected species (since 1926), and an estimated 200 live on Curaçao. They’re found in many parts of the island, but most notably at the west end’s Christoffel Park, where about 70{cade3cd6ea44c9e099402f61e95e983e8f83ab951f3ff944c0038bbba399d24f} of the herd resides. Archaeologists believe that the deer was brought from South America to Curaçao by its original inhabitants, the Arawaks.
You’ll also find several species of iguana, light green in color with shimmering shades of aqua along the belly and sides, lounging in the sun here and there. The iguanas found on Curaçao are not only nice to look at, but, unlike many islands that gave up the practice years ago, remain fodder for the dinner table. Along the west end of the island’s north shore are several inlets that have become home to breeding sea turtles. These turtles are protected by the park system in Shete Boka Park, and you can visit the moms-to-be in the mornings, accompanied by park rangers.

Climate

Curacao has a tropical savannah climate, with little rain and warm temperatures throughout the year. Travelers will enjoy the low humidity and frequent breezes penetrating the heat of the day.

Time & Date: GMT -4

Currency:
The Netherlands Antillean guilder (Dutch: gulden) is the currency of Curaçao and Sint Maarten, which until 2010 formed the Netherlands Antilles along with Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius. It is subdivided into 100 cents (Dutch plural form: centen). The guilder was replaced by the US dollar on 1 January 2011 on Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. On Curaçao and Sint Maarten, the Netherlands Antillean guilder is planned to be replaced by the newly created Caribbean guilder.

Languages:
Curaçao is a polyglot society. The official languages are Dutch, Papiamentu and English. However, Dutch is the sole language for all administration and legal matters. Most of Curaçao’s population is able to converse in at least two of the languages of Papiamentu, Dutch, English, and Spanish.
The most widely spoken language is Papiamentu, a Portuguese creole spoken in all levels of society. Papiamentu was introduced as a language of primary school education in 1993, making Curaçao one of a handful of places where a creole language is used as a medium to acquire basic literacy. Spanish and English also have a long historical presence in Curaçao. Spanish became an important language in the 18th century due to the close economic ties with Spanish colonies in what are now Venezuela and Colombia. Use of English dates to the early 19th century, when the British took Curaçao and Bonaire. When Dutch rule resumed in 1815, officials already noted wide use of the language.
According to the 2001 census, Papiamentu is the first language of 81.2{cade3cd6ea44c9e099402f61e95e983e8f83ab951f3ff944c0038bbba399d24f} of the population. Dutch is the first language of 8{cade3cd6ea44c9e099402f61e95e983e8f83ab951f3ff944c0038bbba399d24f}, Spanish of 4{cade3cd6ea44c9e099402f61e95e983e8f83ab951f3ff944c0038bbba399d24f} , and English of 2.9{cade3cd6ea44c9e099402f61e95e983e8f83ab951f3ff944c0038bbba399d24f}. However, these numbers divide the population in terms of first language and do not account for the high rate of bilingualism in the population of Curaçao.

Travel Insurance:
When buying your travel insurance, always check the small print – some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which could be anything from scuba diving to horse riding. You should check whether the medical coverage is on a pay first, claim later basis and, more importantly, ensure that your medical coverage includes the cost of medical evacuation.

Visa:
Generally tourists holding a valid passport may enter Curaçao without a written permit and remain with us for a period of up to 90 days. However, several nationalities (e.g. Cuba, Haiti, Peru) must present a tourist visa as part of our entry requirements. A visa should be applied for at least one month in advance at any representation of the Netherlands (in the concerning country). US visitors require a passport to get back into the USA.

Nationals from the Dominican Republic, China and India do not need to apply for a visa if they are in possession of a valid multiple entry visa for the United States, Canada or the Schengen countries (Europe).

As of July 1, 2015 Colombian nationals will not need a visa anymore to enter Curaçao

Tourists should be in possession of:

Valid passport
A return or outward ticket on arrival
Sufficient funds for accommodations and food
The necessary documents for returning to the country of origin, or further travel elsewhere

International Airports:
Hato International Airport

Capital: Willemstad
Currency: Netherlands Antillean Guilder
Population: 159,999
Official languages: Dutch, English, Papiamento

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2017-12-01T13:02:03+00:00